SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah has come and gone, but the economic impact lasts far beyond the festivities.
St. Patrick’s Day wristband sales the Friday leading into the weekend were down 50 percent this year compared to 2018, but officials say it’s not time to hit the panic button just yet.
The fountain is no longer green and the party has come and gone ... but those who live here in Savannah are looking at what could have caused a decrease in wristband sales St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
“You can’t necessarily control the market when it’s demand-based," said Michael Owens, President/CEO, Tourism Leadership Council.
The Savannah Waterfront Association is in charge of the wristband sales, and the city gets a cut. In 2018, there were 23,300 bands sold on Friday, but this year, just over 11,500.
Despite the decline, Owens says St. Patrick’s Day 2019 was a success in Savannah.
“Restaurant and bar owners that we have spoken with have said ‘yeah, we were definitely down on Friday, but Sunday was a killer day compared to last year,’ so we saw the party shift a little bit more, and having been in this business for as long as I have in this community, you never really can predict exactly when the big crowds are going to hit,”
Rachelle Wallace says she found the decline in sales surprising, but she had suggestions about how to improve the sales for next year.
“Make it a little easier to get. I know that when we went to get ours, they double-checked our ID’s and we had to dig them out twice, not knowing that they were going to do that, and then they were cash-only, which I know many people don’t carry cash," Wallace said.
Overall, wristband sales were down, but Saturday sales made up some ground for the slow Friday. Last year, nearly 74,000 sold total. This year, over 62,500 were sold. While it’s not the only measure of success, it is an important one.
“There is a huge cost to everybody to actually put on a safe and entertaining festival, whether it’s security, sanitation, port-a-potties - even the bands which is one of the more expensive parts of it. It costs a lot of money to do, and that’s what those wristbands do and that’s what those wristbands help offset," Owens said.
Owens also reported that hotels had some of the latest check-ins for St. Patrick’s Day weekend compared to years past, and he added that the wristband sales could reflect less concentration of people in the downtown area that weekend, which he views as positive since they’ve made efforts to spread the festivities throughout the entire city.
Below is a breakdown of this year’s numbers: